A Physician assistant is a medical professional who works with a supervising physician and performs some minor clinical duties under normal circumstances. Even though they’re technically an assistant, they usually get a whopping 6 figure salary depending on their specialization. To become a PA one needs a to get a degree and a license after that to practice medicine. So, the question is – How to get a Physician Assistant degree –
There are 5 main steps to get a PA degree. First, you will need to get a bachelor’s degree. Then it is best if you practice healthcare in as some or the other medical professional. After this, you need to apply to get a master’s degree from a PA school. This still doesn’t allow you to have your own practice. To achieve this, you need to pass the PANCE. Unfortunately, it is still not over. PAs are required to maintain their degree by continuing education and taking the PANRE every few years. Let’s analyze these steps in detail.
The first step to is to get into a decent college that offers courses related to the field of medical science. It helps a lot if you already had these courses in high school. Some of these courses may be Healthcare ethics, medical terminology, Human anatomy, and physiology. You can also take some regular course like Statistics, quantitative methods, or psychology!
Healthcare training is not necessary a step to get into a PA school for master’s training. But most of these colleges prefer an applicant to have previous experience (minimum 3 years of healthcare training) in the field. Thus, though it’s not necessary, it is highly recommended. Moreover, this allows you get some prior experience as to what it is like to be in different parts of the medical service industry. Popular choices for healthcare training are EMT, paramedic or nurse.
After getting some healthcare training, you have a high chance of getting into the good PA schools for your master’s degree. This phase of the training teaches you more technical stuff like Anatomy, Pathology, Physiology, Medical ethics and law and Pharmacology.
Alternatively, one can also do a BA-PA which is a rigorous combination of the bachelor’s and the master’s degree together. It enables one to get a degree faster than completing the whole process and you can skip the healthcare training in between too.
Master’s degree consists mostly of clinical rounds where you get to spend most of your time working around patients to learn more practical skills. The more you practice in this phase, the better it is.
After you get your master’s degree you can also choose to get other certifications required for different kinds of specializations. These can include vascular access, ultrasound or neurofeedback. This gives you an added edge over the other PAs out there
Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam or PANCE
PANCE is the final step to get your degree to be able to practice medicine. Students who graduate from an ARC-PA approved program may sit for this exam. It can be taken a total of 6 times in a span of 6 years. If one fails to pass the exam in these 6 attempts, one must complete another ARC-PA program to try again.
Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam or PANRE
Getting the degree is not enough in this competitive field. One must strive to maintain his/ her license here. Every few years, one must take the PANRE to ensure he/she gets to continue being a PA. In some cases, it is mandatory to undergo 100 hours of education every two years.
All this rigorous training spans for a period of about 9 years if you take health care training into consideration. It may require less or more time depending on the path that one decides to take. At the end of the day, being a PA is worth it, simply because you get to take care of amazing people and sometimes even save lives.